24 people, mostly women and children, were, on Monday, March 5, killed in a fresh crisis at Omusu Edimoga in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue state.
The council chairman, Olofu Ogwuche, stated this while conducting state governor, Samuel Ortom, round the affected community on Tuesday, March 6.
The governor and members of state security council had visited Omusu Edimoga for an on-the-spot assessment, Punch reports. Ogwuche said the herdsmen had reported to the council the loss of their cows some kilometers from the affected village.
He said he was already mediating in the crisis when report got to him that the herdsmen had invaded the village and killed some people.
The herdsmen were said to have invaded the community between 2pm and 3pm on Monday, allegedly killing some children who were returning from school.
Ogwuche said: “It was on Monday that police came to inform me that herdsmen reported that people of Omusu Edimoga village had rustled their cows.
“When I heard this, I started mediating over the issue, during which I received information that herdsmen had invaded the community.
“Immediately I got the report, I rushed down, and with the help of the police, we were able to recover 17 corpses and took them to the mortuary at the General Hospital in Okpoga.
“This morning (Tuesday), when we came here, we recovered the body of six persons and they have also been taken to the mortuary. “But as we were moving around, the corpse of an 11-year-old girl was also recovered.
“So, in all, 24 persons had died, and some are still missing.” Governor Ortom condemned the attack, and accused herdsmen of “always taking the law into their own hands.”
“They reported the case of rustling, but instead of waiting for the outcome of Police investigation, they came and killed 24 people in a day.
It is senseless. “People in Omusu Edimoga community do not understand cow language; so, no one here rustles their cow, it is the same Fulani men that are rustling their fellows’ cows.
“We cannot continue with these senseless killings; that is why we came out with the law which is aimed to protect everyone. “When Sharia law was introduced in Zamfara State, no one violated the law.
Let security men do their job and arrest the people.” The governor appealed to the people not to take the law into their hands. Earlier, Benue state command spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, had claimed that 16 people, including a herdsman were killed.
Yamu in a statement made available to Punch on Tuesday, March 6, said that the attack was a reprisal after some youths in the community went berserk and attacked herdsmen and killed some cows.
The statement read:-
“We received information from the security adviser of Okpokwu local government that some irate youths from Omutu engaged some herdsmen in a fight, maiming some cows while two herdsmen were missing.
“A peace meeting was immediately convened by the council chairman and the head of Fulani community in the area while a police search party went in search of the two missing herdsmen, one of whom was found dead.”
“Unfortunately, as the search and peace meeting were ongoing, some herdsmen went on a rampage, hacking 15 persons – mostly women and children, to death while some houses were set ablaze.”
The police spokesman said four suspects had been arrested in connection with the killings, adding that ‘extensive’ patrol of the community was ongoing and to be reinforced by special forces.